Preliminary results have shown Iraqi Prime Minister Hayder Abadi’s “Victory” alliance did much more poorly than anyone anticipated, coming in third place in Saturday’s elections. Influential cleric Moqtada al-Sadr’s bloc won the most seats, while Badr Brigade head Hadi al-Amiri came in a close second.
Abadi offered a statement of congratulations to Sadr for his victory, and for encouraging a secure atmosphere during the vote. That said, Abadi isn’t taking the loss itself particularly well, and is also agitating for a nationwide, manual recount of votes.
Claims of fraud are ubiquitous in large votes in countries like Iraq with a deep history of corruption. Abadi, however, is using those claims, and the use of “faulty” electronic voting machines to argue a recount is needed. Though this started with claims of mistakes in Kirkuk, Abadi wants it expanded nationwide.
There is little reason to expect substantial changes to the final count, as the allegations of irregularities appear much less widespread than previous elections. The next step after the vote is finalized would be for the party with the largest plurality, Sadr’s, to try to form a majority government.
While the other major blocs all have leaders with close ties to Iran and the US, Sadr has staked out a more independent position, which appears to have served well in the election. Sadr has been very critical of the presence of foreign troops in Iraq, which may have an impact on the future of US deployments in the country.
Note: For more information on the open-ended US involvement in Iraq, I have written a new article in the American Conservative, available here.